Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

Summary: Steve Jobs admitted that Apple launched its MobileMe web service prematurely. Apple should now deploy a status reporting system.


Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

Steve Jobs admitted that Apple launched its MobileMe web service prematurely. Downtime and unhappy customers plagued the bug-ridden service immediately after Apple unveiled it last month.

Ars Technica reports from an internal email Jobs sent to employees, describing how Apple jumped the gun and released a product that simply wasn't ready:

Steve Jobs admitted that MobileMe was launched too early and "not up to Apple's standards." The e-mail, seen by Ars Technica, acknowledges MobileMe's flaws and what could have been done to better handle the launch. In addition to needing more time and testing, Jobs believes that Apple should have rolled MobileMe's services out slowly instead of launching it "as a monolithic service." For example, over-the-air iPhone syncing could have gone up initially, then web apps one by one (Mail, Calendar, etc.).

Jobs goes on. "It was a mistake to launch MobileMe at the same time as iPhone 3G, iPhone 2.0 software and the App Store," he says. "We all had more than enough to do, and MobileMe could have been delayed without consequence."

Despite MobileMe's pretty face, it remains a specialized web service with paying customers who expect high reliability and availability. Apple should now implement a status reporting system, such as that employed by and Amazon web services.

Here's a screen capture from Amazon's status site:

Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

While cute user interfaces and pretty fonts are nice, they're not enough to satisfy the needs of paying customers.

[Image from Bert Palmer]

Topics: Enterprise Software, Apple, Software, Networking, Mobility, iPhone, Hardware, Collaboration, Cloud, Browser, IT Employment

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  • MobilMe... maybe not

    Back in 2005, I gave up all of my other sources of email, etc. in favor of .Mac. Without warning or notification, they switched to this "less than" lovely system. It wasn't broke, so why fix it... especially in the way that they did. It's been frustrating and erratic at times, and there is no way to get satisfaction. Apple isolates itself through it's maze of screens on its web site. You can't talk to a real person or even approach voicing your need for real help. They have become just like every other large corporation who doesn't want to hear from customers anymore. It didn't used to be like that. What they now claim as improved service, is just their way of keeping the customer at bay. I stopped going into Apple stores for this very reason. I've been an Apple advocate since the very beginning, but at times like this I have to wonder why. The whole MobilMe thing is a good idea that was implemented while it was only half baked.
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    Steve Jobs did NOT acknowledge a "Failure" with MobileMe.
    It is true that it was not ready for prime time, but the
    reality is that a very small percentage of users were
    affected. Bad for them, but it is a problem, not a failure.
    MobileMe is a sweeping update, using cutting edge
    technologies, and Apple, by their own admission, released
    it too early. They have pushed the envelope and it tore in a
    few places. But as a user I can tell you that for the first
    time my laptops, desktops and mobile phones all sync
    calendars, emails and contacts flawlessly now using
    MobileMe. I am quite satisfied.
    Greg Sparkman
    • Terminology

      Recently, I was discussing IT problems with someone from a large software company. He disagreed the issues represented "failure." I said, okay, then call them "challenges."

      Call it what you will, something screwed up in the MobileMe release process.

      Anyway, glad it works for you. Eventually, after time and QA, the service will be reliable for everyone.

      Thanks for commenting.
    • Hold On There, Baba Looey,

      You should Google "ical MobileMe sync problems". I have
      all my appointments in iCal on my Powerbook and can no
      longer sync them to .Mac (oops, I mean MobileMe). I've
      tried everything suggested on the Web without success.
      Now I see Apple acknowledges this problem on their site
      and basically says "we're working on it". All my
      appointments in iCal are subscription via .
      Among other persisting problems, it also appears that
      MobileMe can't upload iCal subscriptions. I'm glad it works
      for you ... but you may be the exception, not the rule.
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges Apples inability to run release/large scal web apps.

    I wonder, if Apple is up to the task of large scale web apps. This is after all a systemic failure to roll out high volume systems.

    It is now how often that the activation system collapsed under the weight of initial day iPhone sales? Have they nothing learned from the first time around?

    And the same happens with the second product rollout (MobileMe) the very same day? Failed once, o.k., failed twice with the same sort of service offering? Shame on you Apple!

    In addition, when I read that customers where switched w/o notice w/o consent to the new service from the predecessor, that demonstrates arrogance and our dependency on web services. Buyer beware don't put vital services into the hands of someone else, w/o control.
    • Apple = Arrogance

      It is a fact that Apple's true colours are showing for everyone to see. The iBrick, the service changes without consultation.. it all shows a level of amazing arrogance.. but this is better so we are MAKING you use it.. better for whom? The m I suspect as it increases their ability to make money..
      I wouldn't touch apple with a ten foot barge pole because they have a long history of arrogance.. our way is better.. no choice.. use our hardware only.. no you can't plug that in.. we don't get our cut.. No you can't play your music on that.. it's not an apple app or product!

  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    Mr Krigsman, your headline is confusing. The word
    "failure" did not appear in the text excerpt from Mr. Jobs'
    memo. Indeed, there were many flaws in the MobileMe
    roll-out. For some they were non-existent. For others they
    were life-changing, for the worse. Like you, I dislike the
    new icons (which I've changed on my desktop) and the new
    name, though I have learned that judging a book by its
    cover is as misguided as buying a bottle of wine solely
    because it has an attractive label.
    Whereas you are a professional who earns a living by being
    "dedicated to reducing software implementation failures," I
    would hope you might offer some insights to the specific
    sources of the problems and suggest alternate strategies
    and tactics.
    I look forward to your thoughts.
    Jules Lauve
    • Problem sources

      I realize the word "failure" didn't appear in the memo, however, that is my interpretation of the situation. MobileMe suffered a variety of problems following release, including downtime and lack of reliability.

      I think whether or not you call these problems failures is a minor point. More importantly, Apple failed to properly test and launch the service; I think you would agree on that point.

      One last point: I wasn't trying to make a statement about the icons. Rather, I wanted to point out that a nice user interface doesn't substitute for reliability.

      Thanks for commenting.
    • my gripe

      it was a automatic down loaded IF ANNOUNCED by Apple
      I missed the announcement .
      All I saw was a new strange worded e-mail account
      in my mail app and erased it wondering were did that
      come from and accidentally erasing the whole
      mail app accounts .
      Not like I read every or even any e-mail I get from Apple
      like I want to read adds . gk
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    As an ordinary user I was upset that I could not get my email
    for several days. I do not have an iPhone, PDA, whatever. I
    just use a Mac and use email. The rollout of a service for new
    machines and advanced users shouldn't have that kind of
    impact on the everyday email customer, unless Apple is so
    set on the Enterprise market that they are ready to ignore us.
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    On the big day, MobileMe was S L O W, but it worked for me OK. I don't think the problems hit everyone (me for example), but Apple should have done better! The next day it was fine. Get it right and stop trying to rush things.
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    Completely agree with other posters about the farcical state of Mobileme. As a long time .Mac user I've experience frozen Macs and lost iCal calendars since this 'upgrade'. Support is almost impossible to access - my paid for Apple Support contract don't want to know about anything to do with Mobileme (what then do I pay them for???) and the iChat support service for Mobileme seems to always read - 'busy, please try later'. I've had an Apple Mac for 17 years - but reckon I might move to Vista next time. At least Microsoft seems to have learnt the lesson that you can't get away with providing shoddy, badly tested products amd shirking any responsibility for them. Apple seems to still be going through that particular curve...
    • Move to Vista?

      Now there's a way to get lots of hate mail.. just the mere suggestion.. But you are correct, MS wouldn't do that.. people call them slow.. because they do move kinda slow.. but this would NOT happen with MS..

      They also would never presume to force a new product on you.. and I noticed you mentioned a 'paid for support service' with Apple.. why on earth would you need a paid for support service? Is Apple that bad that you need that much support..

      PS I don't actually love VISTA.. I beta tested it.. but like XP more.. VISTA will come of age as XP did.. I'm waiting for that day..
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    Sipping the Apple Kool-Aid has left a bad taste in my mouth. I am a long time Windows user currently using Windows Vista. A couple of years ago I got an iPod Nano for free via a Softbank promotional campaign. I was so impressed with the Nano and the ease of use of iTunes that I gave my 2GB Nano to my girlfriend and bought an 8 GB Nano for myself. I was impressed with the idea that with Apple, "It Just Works" and started considering purchasing an Apple for my next laptop. When the 3G iPhone came to Japan I stood in line for 6 hours and was happy to get my 16 GB black iPhone. There are many things to like about the iPhone but MobileMe is certainly not one of them. I signed up for the 3 months free introductory offer and it's been about 2 weeks now but I can't for the life of me figure out how to get my contacts to sync properly to my iPhone. My Contacts are grouped properly on MobileMe but syncing to the iPhone gives me only the individual contacts. The Groups themselves appear on the iPhone but each group is empty. I can find no help with this and I am left standing by watching my first free 90 days of AppleMe trickle away with no solution in sight. When I went to the famed Apple Store in Tokyo to buy accessories for my 3G iPhone one of the workers was wearing a little sign around his neck that said "Ask me about MobileMe" so I did! He sighed wearily and told me that if I wanted to find out about MobileMe I should pay 10,000 yen and sign up for a one-on-one consultation service with someone who was an expert. I don't know Steve, looks like the shine is off the Apple.
    Tokyo Otoko
  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    No consolation to me - I have suffered more than a month
    with this daft service that blocked mails from one of my
    key business partnership's servers . Everything from that
    domain would not come through and for weeks I have had
    a huge disruption in email.
    Its really really surprising that they would go ahead live on
    a service that was so evidently full of bugs. This is a very
    microsoft thing to do and I cannot understand how Apple
    who is otherwise particular of the quality of product would
    make such a critical error of judgement . Wake up people -
    you are the best because you never tried to be everything
    to everyone - that philosophy is clearly in Redmond. Don't
    make it your own. Mac users are fiercely loyal - but don't
    take our patience for granted !
    • Best for everyone?

      You said it.. Redmond is trying to make products and services for everyone, running on ANY hardware.. and you think that is bad?

      Your comment that what Apple has done is a Very Microsoft thing to do.. what a load of rubbish.. Microsoft wouldn't do that.. what they have changed ANY of their web available apps including Hotmail, I was informed, I was asked if I wanted to change, and they surveyed me asking what I thought of the new look Hotmail.. I don't see Apple doing that.. nope, they don't ask customers what they think.. because they know better.. MS are somewhat guilty of that, but Apple take the gold meddle..

  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    It's clear that the release date of the iphone itself was key in the premature launch of mobilme. Marketing pressured engineering and engineering didn't stand up for itself or was too ignorant to say 'no.' The release of the iphone without mobilme would have in reality, been ok, but this wouldn't have lived up to the promise from marketing. As a result, mobileme was pushed out early. I don't know how you could have been an Apple user and not known that mobileme was coming, nonetheless, moving existing users over and having ANY kind of issue with email outage, idisk failure, loss of icards, etc... is to me, unacceptable for a service that will cost a family $175/year. I hope that Apple has learned something from this experience, both in the marketing and engineering departments.
    • $175 a year.. for what?

      Admittedly I'm not all that up on what MobileMe is but I assumed it was a unified, web based, mail/Contact/Calender system.. is it just me or does Hotmail do ALL that for free? And it includes 5GB of storage.. for nothing..

      Shame on you Apple..

  • RE: Jobs acknowledges MobileMe failure

    Just bought the service - and it does not work! Thought it was me, my computer, Microsoft, but no its MobileMe that crashes reliably on Sync Services - with no clue on the web or from Apple how to rectify - get a service for the money a customer paid.